Friday, 9 July 2010

Reward -Dead or Alive - $5 million.

First let me say the core content of this post has been extracted from Micheal Moores film CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY.

I would recommend its viewing.

According to the film several major American corporations have developed an entrepreneurial approach towards the values they place on their employees well being.

From memory these include, but probably are not limited to, around ten of America's biggest employers - Bank of America, Wall Mart, Proctor & Gamble etc. Seemingly, with thousands of employees, some management nerd in either the corporations or the insurance industry unearthed the statistics that some of those thousands would suffer premature deaths every year through natural or unnatural causes.

The film gives two examples.

The first is of a middle management husband and father who died of cancer in his late thirties. Shortly after his death, his wife received a cheque from a policy she knew nothing about for circa $1.5 million. The insurers had made a mistake in sending the cheque to her instead of his employers the Bank of America.

She, nor her children were not beneficiaries.

Subsequently, her representative found out the Bank had another policy out on her late husband which covered them for another $3.5 million. in effect her husbands death benefited the Bank by $5 million; she got none?

The second example was a young mother who worked as a pastry decorator in Wall Mart.
She died in her early thirties of asthma. Her husband and family had medical bills around $100k plus a $6k funeral bill to meet. Wall Mart had her covered for an amount that would have covered most of that but Wall Mart believe that charity begins and ends at Head Office.

Neither of the people referred to in these examples could be considered key executives of the corporations they worked for. As a middle administrator or a decorator of cakes the tragedy of their early deaths could not impose massive costs on their employers in filling the gaps they left in the corporate structure. This assumption would seem to be confirmed by less than pleasant name these policies are known under - Dead Peasant Policies - which makes the accusation of venality all the more tenable.

In fact for employees of American corporations it should raise doubts as to whether the cavalier attitude of corporate America towards health care is, to a large extent, down the diabolical practices such as these, when, to the balance sheet, their worth is more dead than alive?

In Britain it is supposedly illegal for a policy to be issued which gives an individual with no direct relationship connections a vested interest in the life, well being and property of another. Well and good, but does that apply to the corporates where the deals can be done globally from the inner temples of high finance?

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Mr & Mrs Clucking Tosspots Part 4

So why do placebos work for Tosspots and not for dogs?

Is it the price we pay, the downside of having a conscience, imagination, the alleged superiority of our intelligence that feeds us with desires, ambitions, that fuel our dreams and fire our fears. If it is, and this is the yolk evolution has placed upon us, isn't it time we got a proper handle on it, valued it and evaluated our responses and responsibilities towards it. Or should we leave it to the prescriptions of the Tosspots with their placebos and snake-oil alchemy's to control our future; perhaps even define our destiny and decide our existence. Do we have that luxury; and if we believe we do, is it one we can afford? Perhaps to be more blunt, what efficacy can we expect from a sticking plaster covering a malignant tumour?

So, who are these Tosspots; well we are in varying degrees writ large, but some have very large writs and substantially more aspire towards having large writs. While at the other end of the scale a substantial amount suspend the right to be included in the writ while the majority, covering maudlin through mediocrity to genius suspend their responsibility to question the right for the writ to exist.

Here is how it works.

Early in the 20th century the plutocrats realised the huge marketing potential the emerging advancements in technology would bring them. The first quarter of the century for the industrial world placed the emphasis on building the industries and products needed to meet the existing demands created by the new products and technologies. But once that demand was met a balance had to be found between production, advances in technology and markets in order to maintain profits. This proved difficult to do given the restraints of reality and led to the depression.

Some of the plutocrats went to the wall while others clung on in their industries, but the really clever ones saw that the real problem was the restraints, limitations and obligations reality placed upon them. They decided to manufacture a virtual world where wealth and its concomitant power could be controlled and enhanced with minimal risks, responsibilities (social and moral) and where their involvement gave the facade of solidity to their buccaneering make believe. Now these guy's are not fools. They are the ultimate in pragmatism. They'll compete to win and shed blood doing it -others preferably but their own if need be. They are guileful in the use of patience, relentless in their application and remorseless when they strike. They didn't want celebrity or plaudits, in fact the opposite. Preferring the role of kingmaker to those who wore or claim the crowns either sovereign, political or corporate. Their reasoning was simple, it was far better to loan the money to the person who paid the piper than to take the chance and commitment on being identifiable as the one who called the wrong tune. But first they had to give the mirage of substance to their virtual world and for that they invested in the art of advertising and the media. They had just begun to refine the potential developments this would have on their virtual world when a mad Austrian presented them with the gift of the century.

War to them was a win - win situation with infinite potentials far outweighing risk. Didn't matter who won or lost in Europe. The profits of the winners would cover the initial losses of the losers then reconstruction would invert the winners and losers. Russia had always been too risky and now was a closed shop so of little relevance to the emerging virtual market. And even with Japan poking its far eastern nose into the conflict it was inconceivable that America would end up on the losing side, either strategically or financially. And the Joe's, Jocks and Jeans of all nations who risked their blood and guts and who survived would return to claim their share and be ripe for the good life virtual or otherwise. War made rubble of any of the old parameters. War left America with 8% of the world population and 56% of its wealth. Of course it wasn't America as a nation which held the wealth. It had some but that wasn't spread throughout its 8% population. Perhaps around a tenth of that held a share, but the bulk of the wealth was held by a number of plutocrats who percentage wise put more noughts before the dot to have any statistical populace relevance. Now they could ratchet up their virtual world of media,marketing and gullible consumption up a gear and start sliding in the cogs that will eventually allow them to control the governing of nations.

That was a lot cheaper and potentially more lucrative. Buy a President or Prime Minister and you've hired an administration. Pump prime the media to either cheer or jeer to demand. Stock the legislative committees with aspirational tosspots who give free reign to markets that are free to exploit the majorities they supposedly represent while protecting the profits of the marketeers. While other committees use a euphemism called avoidance instead of fraud based on the mind blowing idiocy that these wizards of commercial and financial alchemy will take their magic balls and leave a nation in penury. No thought is ever given to the fact that probably five double deck buses would probably be enough to transport all of the balls and their appendages to whatever destination they choose; or that for every one who goes there will be ten of their erstwhile colleagues fighting to take their place.

Because Britain clung to the myths of its traditions and in some respects tried to expand the qualities and values of its democratic commitments, it was slow to adopt the critical path of the virtual world being scripted, directed and produced by America. Battling between fatigue and bankruptcy it tried to rebuild its industries from shoestrings of resources on a mountain of debt with plant and machinery that had the gut mashed out of them pounding out war products. Until that is, a Grantham grocers daughter came on the scene and applied for a supporting role in Reagans B rated virtual movie. We were in; we had hitched our waggon to this Western B rated star. Suddenly manufacturing was defunct, coal was crap and construction was a disposable industry unless it serviced the service industries. Purveyors of shitty advertising ditty's lead governments to victory or at least saved therm from defeat. Penitent ex miners and boilermakers donned hairnets and packaged airline meals for packaged holidaymakers. The media spun the news to highlight the fun and the feast of consumption while seductively introducing the victims as losers. The plutocrats loved that. Sure we were only a dubious forth or fifth, possibly sixth in the world league - depending on how you measured it, and we were a long way behind the major players with larger and more aspirational players ready to bounce over us - but we were hungry and to be offered the opportunity to create an industry manipulating a virtual product with lots of gain provided we caused it no pain was the temptation of heroin to an addict. In the 90s two other professional politicians hitched their waggon to the virtual star and confirmed our commitment to the principles of plutocracy. One of them, perhaps confused by the ability of any thing virtual to take substantial shape or form declared he'd exterminated the cycle of Boom & Bust.

The plutocrats laughed and decided to get rid of him. Time for a change, to range up new ranks of Tosspots giving the myth of democracy another airing before the masses might heed the rumbling of their gut and the neurons trying to blast their way through the desperation of their brains with the message that sometimes might is right and it's they in their exploited millions who hold that might.

The choice is yours; unless that is your happy as a Tosspot.